Five Important Tips on Building a PC

Geek!This is Ziggles’ submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I’ve been into computers for quite a while and I’ve been following Chris and his geekiness for about three years now. Now I recently saw Chris’s YouTube video about the HP contest and I decided what the heck, why not enter. After being in a tech chat for a little over a year sucking in loads of information and helping tons of people, I think that I have earned the right to make a top 5 tips for Building a Computer. I know many people are interested in building their own computer, but when it comes down to actually starting the entire process, they get stuck. Building a computer is actually very easy and quick if you know what you’re doing. So I hope with these tips, it’ll will make this really fun process much easier.

  1. Do your research. I don’t know how I can stress this enough. I see people come into the chat I am usually in, and they buy all these computer parts thinking it will all work together but it doesn’t. It took me a good solid 3 months to find compatible parts, really good deals, and an overall satisfactory with the computer and its insides. I recommend going to websites which give articles and benchmarks about specific products. Ask a lot of questions to fellow techies you find for help with your build, whether it be on the web or in person. I’ll repeat it again. Do your research. If I could make a top ten list, I would use the top 1 – 5 just to say do your research. It’s that important.
  2. Prepare for Your Build. Once you have finished your research and you bought all your parts you must prepare for your build. For starters, pick a nice BIG clean space to work on, preferably on a table. Try as much as possible to keep away from mounting everything on the floor, especially the floor. That is a big no-no. Static is a computer’s worst friend. One zap and everything will get fried. I recommend wearing no socks, buying a static free wristband, and grounding yourself by touching something metal each time you go to work on your build. Now it’s important for any computer build, that you have the right tools for the job. Many stores like Staples buy computer building kits, which includes all kinds of screwdrivers, screws, clips, and other goodies to help streamline the process of building a computer. I HIGHLY recommend buying a magnetic screwdriver, because when assembling everything, you don’t know how many times you will lose the little damn screw inside the case. Having a magnetic screw driver can easily pick it out of there. Have everything that you need with you before assembling. That includes parts, peripherals like monitors, keyboards, and speakers.
  3. Take Your Time. Even though I said earlier “it doesn’t take a long time to make a computer if you know what you’re doing” – take your time. Its better that the build be done right instead of rushed. Don’t build if you are in a bad mood. Take out around 5 hours to dedicate to your build and start with a fresh mind. Keep all the manuals and installation instructions for each part. If you get stuck, you can always use them for guidance. A nice word of advice I can give you is that everything fits in only one way. All the power connectors, SATA connectors, CPU installation, fan installations, and PCI installation only fits in ONE way. You can’t mess it up. If you get stuck, once again refer to the manuals. They usually have nice little pictures for you to see.
  4. “Bench test” everything outside the case first. This is a commonly skipped step made by all computer builders. It is very important that you assemble your entire computer OUTSIDE the case first to make sure everything is working. Put your motherboard onto of the box it came in and plug everything into it there. Power it all up and test it. It’s very stressful when you have everything nice and snug inside the case only to find out the power supply is dead. Make sure all the connections are securely fastened, and that everything is turned on and working alright. Once you have done this, take everything apart except the RAM, CPU, and CPU fan. Leave those things plugged into the motherboard as they are a pain to install once the motherboard is inside the case. After that, place the motherboard inside the case, WITH standoffs in place between the case and the motherboard. This is so there is no shortage. Proceed with installing the power supply, video card (if you have one), DVD drives, hard drives, and whatever else you want to put in there. Plug the computer into a power outlet, and fire her up. Format the hard drives; install the operating system, and drivers for components.
  5. Enjoy! Building a computer is a really fun process if you are into it. Be social and join forums and tech sites to just gather all the information you can. Share your knowledge and have fun. This leads to making more informed decisions in the future. Research, be prepared, take it easy, and follow the steps. If you did that successfully and you have a new computer, congratulations on a job well done! You aren’t a true computer builder if you haven’t done the sacred blood sacrifice for your new rig. Only then you can consider yourself a true master.

39 thoughts on “Five Important Tips on Building a PC”

  1. Pingback: OzTech
  2. I have been a system builder for some time now. And these are the best set of tip’s I have read for a long time. Some spot on advice. Keep it up dude.

  3. Great Job, I feel like the first step is relevant when it’s your first build but if you’re keeping up with current technology the research is a constant thing so you could pick out parts for a good computer in 30-40 minutes on newegg.

  4. Ya, great post.

    Don’t forget, also look beyond brand names and specifically check the hardware specifications. A less known brand may outperform a well known brand for the same price.

    Also, benchmarks aren’t everything. So your GPU benches a score of 5115 on 3DMark Vantage and someone else’s benches 4900, but their GPU may have a better motion flow due to stream units and pipelines. I always think benches are over rated and just gives egotistical people who ar enerdy to brag about soemthing :P.

    – Jason

  5. Aw man, you took out the piece I added about the Blood Sacrifice! 🙂

    But that’s an excellent and concise piece of work.

  6. Well… Nice Tips ziggles
    I have been building computers for 4 years now, and here are a few more pointers:

    #1: Always ALWAYS!!!!! (always) get a good pair of rubber-soled tennis shoes, NO SOCKS! wear the shoes to keep yourself from creating a ground, place your system on a rubber mat too, keep EVERYTHING from touching anything that may ground. This small step can keep your new fancy rig from being cooked by a practical joker in the house, or from any other reason (those foam packing peanuts are a real pain)
    #2: Keep the magnetic screwdriver away from the harddisk (extremely important, even the smallest magnet BS from your fancy magnetic screwdriver can wipe some data from you disks if you decide to recycle them. (that brings me to #3)
    #3. RECYCLE!!!!!! Dont buy the fancy new part that costs $89.99 if you already have it. (duh) If your old PC had a DVD burner and you do not plan on using your old PC to burn DVDs any more, recycle it. Same with your HDD, its alot faster to just drop your old disk in and copy your files off, instead of trying to burn a few dozen DVDs, when you have all the files off, hit up a local retailer and get an external enclosure to get the rest of the life out of that half-way decent drive.
    #4: Drivers, Drivers, Drivers. Usually when you buy some hardware, the drivers are already outdated. Best fix: before you kill your old PC, download the LATEST! drivers that are stable for your hardware. Many times have I run into a system where someone built it on “new” hardware, but the drivers were already outdated, and with some fancy patch with Windows, they find that their sound doesn’t work rignt.
    #5: Cooling. Small case= (usually) more heat, because there is less space for the heat to go. With the smaller cases, consider getting some extra fans besides the one that the case comes with, and if you are more worried about the temps than the sound, get yourself a few High CFM fans and some noise-removing headphones (they work wonders)
    #6: Processor Cooling. Extremely important for the average OverClocker, the Heat sink is usually the first thing to go. IF you plan on overclocking your system at any time, a good Heatsink and some thermal compound will do you good, (this also applies to the people who hate the noisy stock cooling heatinsk).
    #7: MEMORIZE YOUR BUILD! Once you get it inside your case, you may decide to throw out those fancy boxes that the parts arrived in. This means that you will either have to crack open your case again, and read the model off the front, or drop some cash for a good program like Everest Ultimate. The memorizing also comes in handy when you decide to add on something, and you need a pinout. I have had it happen where I plug in a USB cable in backwards, and BOOM! no more ipod =(, or where you dont see the right pin, and you accidentally put your audio plug on the jumper, royally screwing up you system.
    #8: Power Supply: NEVER (usually) use the powersupply that is included in the case, they are usually a load of (BEEEEP) when it comes to quality. If nothing else, get one with great reviews, a shoddy review usually means a shoddy product.
    #9: Cables: the last thing you want is to have you system almost together, and be missing a cable. If the product descrtiption says that there is not a SATA cable included, then assume the worst and buy an extra (its only a few bucks anyways, and worth having even if it does include a SATA cable)

    That is my good rant for you all to read, and be helped out even more.


  7. Latex gloves should work for ESD protection and they protect the tips of your fingers from the sharp edges of PCBs.

  8. Very good pointers. I built my first 3 computers before buying a brand name one. When it comes to video drivers, I would always suggest using Nvidia because they are the best in my opinion.

  9. Wow ziggles, this is a great article. you touch base on all of the many important and essential aspects of building a custom machine for either gaming or enterprise work. I think you did a truly great job and hope you win the contest. Good luck

  10. Yes. The eldrich dark gods of blood MUST be appeased, else you risk continual bugs with your PC build. The Dark Bloody Ones send gremlins into you rPC to wreak havoc upon your Apps and Games unless the Blood Sacrifice is painfully an freely given.

  11. This really helped me alot, I’ve read some others and tried to have a friend help me; but it didnt really work. This is really helpful though thanks though and if I have any questions I will surely comment 🙂

  12. Well…You got some nice tips there…..The only thing I would say extra would be careful on what kind of parts you purchase….
    Make sure they are really worth the money compared to similar items

  13. Sweet deal,
    Good work, Ziggles. Your knowledge truly shines with this walk-thru on building a computer. I’ve still gotta take you on in COD4: MW Multiplayer. I don’t think my 5k kbps internet is gonna do me any favors. 😛 Good job once again, man…..

  14. This guide is a marvel, and I will refer back to it for inspiration, and guidance anytime I start a new build. Thank you so much! 😀

  15. Great article man. Me being into computers for a while, thought that this answered a lot of basic but very important questions and points. (Which I think was the point of this article). I couldn’t agree more on the research tip. It takes a lot of time to find the right parts, and personally I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

  16. Magnetic Screw-drivers are like pain-killers for building computers,you want them around.

    I think you should always go a little overkill if you have the money,especially on the power supply and motherboard,to ensure smooth flying on your rig.

    Choosing the right brand can be very hard,but I prefer Intel because they’re easier to cool and are generally better,but they’re easier to overclock(well,my Biostar was)

    Also,you should get good heatsinks,even if you aren’t overclocking,because they are generally quieter and more reliable…Copper’s the best.

  17. Very solid tips. This took me a while to find these. (A lot of googling), when I built my rig, and you have done a good job in summing it up nicely. I agree with what was said above, spend the extra cash on a a good heatsink. You will be rewarded later on.

  18. hey this is a pure fact monologue if you keep this up u might be able to make your own fact site!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉

  19. WOW. That’s pretty long. I have a friend that helped me and my brother install a new graphics card and ram drive, and he did pretty well. I think he used the same steps you did. I’ll use this for my future computer needs. Gracias!

    ~CSA Dave C.

  20. Nice job! I liked that this was sort of encouraging as opposed to increadibly technical…it makes those of us who aren’t quite so tech-savvy able to understand and not feel quite so stupid 😀

    building a computer could be a cool project…after i finish my hw in ten years 😛

  21. Wow, this is really useful. I always wanted to build my own computer. I think I might try because of this.
    Thx Ziggles

  22. This is a great article. Thanks for the tip on slowing down and taking your time that is so crucial in making a PC, and when I’ve tried I messed up.

  23. Excellent article Ziggles, I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the tips and the advice. I never thought I could attempt to build my own PC, but based on this article, I think I can try. Great work! Keep i it up.

  24. over the corse of the past 3 years. ive always wanted to build my own computer. well about 3 months ago when i met dan he told me these same tips, and over the past 3 months ive been gathering the parts and other things to make my machine, these tips are awesome and they were very helpful in my own build.

  25. Nice advice. I really enjoyed reading through it. I showed this to my cousin who is always building computers and loved it. After reading this, building a computer seems so easy that my mom could do it and she doesn’t even know how to use one.

    Thanks Ziggles

  26. wow Ziggz… nice

    ur article was simply breathtaking and really helped me realize how under qualified i am to begin building a CPU…. have ur ever wondered about a career like Dr. Phil?.

    lol, jk… but seriously, great job 😀

  27. Never use a magnetic near componets this will cause copper to jump and increase ESD. You can get non magnetic exspanding pilers with plastic handles. Nice information and research is excellent!!

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